Old Westbury Gardens: Part One
Old Westbury Gardens has been on my must visit list for a while and thanks to Preston Davis of Keep it Chic, we had a private tour last Friday. While I was most familiar with the gardens, I had not seen any photos of the interiors filled with antiques, chintz, chinoiserie, jib doors, and elegant details. I plan to focus on the inside of the house in this post and the gardens in another post.
Old Westbury Gardens includes Westbury House which was the former home of John S. Phipps, his wife, Margarita Grace Phipps and their four children for fifty years. Over 175 acres of Quaker farmland was purchased by Phipps to create a country retreat for hunting and polo on the Gold Coast of Long Island. After meeting his wife Margarita in England, he promised to build her a British country estate on the property so she would not be homesick. English designer, George A. Crawley, completed the magnificent Charles II-style mansion in 1906 and also thought out every single detail including the 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.
After her parent’s deaths in 1957 and 1958, their daughter Peggie inherited the state and opened the gardens to visitors in 1959 to honor their memory. Westbury House is furnished with fine English antiques and decorative arts and looks almost exactly as it did when the family inhabited it. One person commented on Instagram that it “feels as though the Phipps family has just left for the afternoon and may pop in during your visit.”
I’ve visited many historic homes around the world and I can honestly say this is one of the most beautiful inside and out. It’s no wonder that so many movies and television programs have been shot on the estate including Love Story, North by Northwest, Cruel Intentions, and Gossip Girl.
Old Westbury Gardens is also easy to visit either by driving or taking LIRR from Penn Station to Westbury and then getting a taxi to the estate. We had a private tour which included the downstairs kitchen and staff areas not usually seen but I recommend a guided tour for your fist visit although, you can also just wonder around on your own. The gardens are planted so something is always blooming but the roses are at their peak now if you wish to go soon. I look forward to seeing them again in the fall and maybe seeing the house decorated for Christmas.